A Guide to Georgia’s Appeals System from See You in Court

December 27, 2023by See You In Court

When there’s a legal dispute, it’s often resolved in a trial court where evidence is presented to the trial judge and jury to sway them in your favor. But if the trial outcome is unfavorable, an appeals process does exist at both the state and federal levels, where a higher court reviews the decision of a lower court (trial court) to determine if the judge’s ruling was incorrect. In today’s article we review Georgia’s Appeals System.

Types of Appeals in Georgia

The three common types of appeals in Georgia are direct appeals, interlocutory appeals, and discretionary appeals. Deciding to file an appeal involves understanding the grounds and determining the appropriate appellate court and appeal type.

  • Direct Appeals: Direct appeals involve a higher court reviewing decisions from a lower court. Parties dissatisfied with a trial outcome can appeal to have the decision reversed or reconsidered. Typically filed as a matter of right initially, subsequent appeals are generally discretionary. A notice of direct appeal must usually be submitted to the trial court clerk within thirty days of the final ruling.
  • Interlocutory Appeals: Interlocutory appeals, often referred to as “interrupting” appeals, can challenge pre-trial court orders. Prior to trial, if an important decision is made, an interlocutory appeal can be filed on your behalf.
  • Discretionary Appeals: Unlike direct appeals, discretionary appeals are not submitted as a matter of right and involve appealing to the Georgia Supreme Court from a Georgia Court of Appeals decision. A petition to the appropriate appellate court is necessary, and approval is essential for the appeal to proceed.

Considerations for Filing an Appeal

For legal disputes, seeking guidance from an experienced attorney well-versed in appellate practice is crucial.

Filing an appeal is a significant decision, mostly due to the associated length, complexity, and costs of doing so. Situations where filing an appeal might be considered include errors of law, errors of fact, and instances of abuse of discretion by the judge.

Appellate Courts in Georgia:

Georgia boasts two appellate-level courts, the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court, with authority over criminal and civil cases from courts. But it lacks jurisdiction over constitutional, homicide, and habeas corpus cases. These types of case appeals are reserved solely for the Georgia Supreme Court.

The Appeals Process in Georgia

If found guilty in a criminal proceeding or jury trial, the automatic right to appeal exists but for a limited time only, usually 30 days after sentencing. The appealing party, or appellant, seeks the appellate court’s evaluation of legal errors, including prejudicial errors and lack of substantial evidence. The process may vary based on the appeal type and case circumstances.

Learn more about Georgia’s Appeals Court in our informational legal podcasts

For podcasts ranging from the ins and outs of governmental liability to trial courts and the foundation of Georgia’s civil justice system, visit See You in Court or contact us today. You’ll be able to listen to assessments and commentary from some of Georgia’s top legal professionals.

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